ccsf.jpgMore than 100 City College of San Francisco students, teachers and their supporters held a rally today to encourage the school to not consolidate diversity departments as part of a plan to maintain its accreditation.

The group, which gathered at City College’s Ram Plaza on the Ocean Campus, included members of the school’s departments of women’s studies, LGBT studies, labor and community studies and studies of various ethnic groups.

Those departments could be consolidated as part of a revamping of City College’s administrative structure, one of several problems cited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which in July placed the school on “show cause” status.

City College last month submitted an action plan responding to the problems identified by the commission and has until March 15, 2013 to submit another report showing progress made toward resolving the problems.

Elizabeth Arruda, chair of the women’s studies department, said the attempt to consolidate the departments “is happening nationwide,” while others argued that taking away the departments’ autonomy would dilute their quality and possibly lead to their elimination.

Shanell Williams, president of the Associated Student Council for the Ocean Campus, said each department “enriches students’ learning environment.”

Williams said, “We’re here today to defend diversity.”

Other speakers criticized another proposal that would reassign department chairs back to full-time teaching roles, a move school officials said would create savings of more than $2 million annually.

Bill Shields, chair of the labor and community departments, said the school’s Board of Trustees is pushing for “an undemocratic governance model” and that the chairs have time to advise students and act as liaisons to their various communities.

Shields also questioned the necessity of what he called “draconian cuts” in the wake of the passing last week of statewide Proposition 30 and local Proposition A, two tax measures that will each provide City College with additional funding.

“There are still some budget concerns, but they are qualitatively eased,” he said.

City College spokesman Larry Kamer said the funding from the two measures simply keeps the school from having to make immediate cuts to services but “doesn’t change the fundamental structural and fiscal problems.”

Kamer also denied that the school was targeting diversity departments in potential structural changes to its administrative structure.

“It’s incorrect to characterize the reform of City College as focusing in on any particular departments or divisions versus others,” he said. “We’re doing a top-to-bottom realignment of resources in the school and doing it to keep accreditation.”

Kamer said, “We want to make sure that we are expending resources as efficiently as possible for students and student services because many of the things City College has done over past couple decades need to be changed.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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